Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Not Enough to be 'Wanted'

Illegitimacy has risen despite--indeed, because of--legal abortion.

From "It's Not Enough to Be 'Wanted" by John Lott Jr., posted 6/19/07 at

The abortion debate usually centers on the morality of the act itself. But liberalizing abortion rules from 1969 to 1973 ignited vast social changes in America. With the perennial political debate over abortion again consuming the presidential campaign and the Supreme Court, it might be time to evaluate what Roe v. Wade has meant in practical terms.

One often misunderstood fact: Legal abortions just didn't start with Roe, or even with the five states that liberalized abortion laws in 1969 and 1970. Prior to Roe, women could have abortions when their lives or health were endangered. Doctors in some states, such as Kansas, had very liberal interpretations of what constituted danger to health. Nevertheless, Roe did substantially increase abortions, more than doubling the rate per live birth in the five years from 1972 to 1977. But many other changes occurred at the same time:

• A sharp increase in pre-marital sex.

• A sharp rise in out-of-wedlock births.

• A drop in the number of children placed for adoption.

• A decline in marriages that occur after the woman is pregnant.

Some of this might seem contradictory. Why would both the number of abortions and of out-of-wedlock births go up? If there were more illegitimate births, why were fewer children available for adoption?

Read the rest of this very enlightening commentary.